Monday, May 26, 2008

True North

It's the eve of my return to the US. I'd have to say that, despite a midway bump in the road, my trip to Canada has been a blast. I can't believe that I get paid to do stuff like this.

Over the weekend I was in Collingwood, a ski town that sits on the Georgian Bay. I love ski towns in summer. I can't quite put my finger on why. They have a certain atmosphere, and the landscape changes when it gets out from under the veil of snow. After that it was back down towards Toronto for another demo yesterday at a conservation area with it's own little ski hill. I got to ride up to the top of the escarpment and snake back down for a short blast.

Then, since I had an extra day to kill, I headed to Niagara Falls. I've never been, and from what I always heard it was better on the Canadian side. It was a mere 70 kilometers away from where I was, so it seemed like it would have been a waste not to go. When I got there, I decided to ride over at night to take some pictures.

Friggin' ace. Today, I went back.

It's unbelievable to see these things. I kept thinking about the fate of the water as it moved along the river ahead of the falls. The river is very wide, and deep, and absolutely crystal clear. I've never seen a river that large with that much clarity. Then, as it nears the edge, it's like all sound disappears from the flow, and it doesn't return until the crashing roar at the bottom. It's a tremendous display of gravity and nature.

I rode my bike both days to get pictures. The parking costs were pretty high nearer the falls, and I didn't really want to pay to park since I couldn't be gone very long with Frazier in the car. As I was riding to the falls from a park today, I had one of those feelings of really loving the bike, and it's versatility. I parked for free, in a place where i could let the dog run and swim, and had a beautiful ride along the river on bike path the whole way. It was awesome.

I decided to come to Sarnia, where I'll do my border crossing tomorrow, and stay on this side for one more day. I had spotted a lakeside park on Google Maps that would make for another nice place to exercise Frazier. I stand in awe of the Great Lakes.

I even saw sheep up here! A few times. And, very few examples of Why I Hate People. None worth mentioning, in fact.

Far be it for me to display no cynicism, however. There are a few annoying things about Canada:

-Too much country music
-Ridiculous gas prices. It cost me at least $100 to fill the tank. Every time. It's around $1.30 per liter.
-Dual-language signs, required by law. But, Quebec doesn't observe this. Everything there is in French only.
-London. This place just doesn't give off a good vibe, and I had to go there 3 times (it's where the Day of Shit happened).

Er, everything else is ace. I can't wait to come back. There really is more to Canada than Whistler.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Series of Unfortunate Events

There's been something in the air lately. I think it's the fine particles that get thrown into the air when the shit hits the fan. It seems that everyone I know has had some dose of bad luck in the last week. Present company included. For my part, here's what happened:

-On the way to Onterrible from Montreal, Frazier decided to go wading in some really gross ditch water. It had been standing for a while, so it had that nice green, oily sheen on top. I had to give him a pseudo-bath using a jug of water and some spray shampoo I had the good foresight to bring with me.
-After arriving in Ontario, I got ready to leave for an event 70 miles away only to discover that I didn't have my phone. I'd walked Frazier through a grassy field earlier in the day, so naturally I had visions of my phone ringing away with no one there to hear it (does it make a sound?). I did a panicked search to no avail, and was late leaving for the event.
-As I exited Highway 401 to head to the shop, there was a cop in front of me who suddenly decided to make me pull over. Again, he was IN FRONT of me, and I was on an exit ramp, so I wasn't speeding. He then proceeded to lecture me for 10 minutes on how unsafe it was for me to not have wing mirror extensions on the car to see around the back of the trailer. In that tone of superiority that cops can get, he said he wasn't going to give me a ticket, but he could have. I guess I was supposed to kiss his gracious feet. As a result of this stop, I was late to my setup at the shop.
-When I got to the shop I noticed that the Touareg had a flat tire. I'm sure this happened when I had to pull off the road for the cop.
-The wheel key is missing from my car, so I had no way to get the wheel off so my sales rep could take it and get it fixed. Instead, they decided to take it to a local VW dealership to have them remove the wheel. Of all the wheel keys they had, not one of them was right for a 2007 Touareg. I guess they change them every year, or something stoopid. So, I had to leave the car, and the trailer down in London. My rep game me a lift back to the Random Canadian's house since I'd left Frazier here.
-It's unseasonably cold, and all of my warm clothes, and dog food, are in the car.
-No one in London, ON had the right tire to put on the car, so I had to leave yet another day while they had one sent from Toronto.
-A neighbor found my phone, but couldn't get it back to me until last night. The time that he said he'd bring it over came and went, so I walked down to his house. Evidently, he'd forgotten all about it. BUT! I got my phone back.
-Frazier appears to have conjunctivitis. And I'm sure he's hungry.

Things appear to be improving slowly now. I'll head down soon with Chrissy to get the car, and then head directly to my event tonight. Frazier will get food, and I'll be able to make calls.

Despite all of this, it's merely crabgrass in the lawn of life, as my dad would say. I was reminded by Sideways that tomorrow is the day a very dear friend goes into the hospital to have a tumor removed. Instant perspective.

So, my very best wishes go out to the Genteel Sailor. I know that your positive attitude will yield the most favorable outcome. My thoughts are with you.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Random Brevity

Steve told me to post more, so I'm going to oblige him even though I don't feel like I have anything worthwhile to write.

So, here's a short list of what I've been up to lately:

-On the way back to Jersey from Illinois, I stopped in Bedford, PA, home to the Cannondale factory. My friend Troy, who runs the demo program there, gave me a tour.
-I gave myself the week off to organize some things and prepare for Canada.
-I didn't do much but ride and take Frazier to the beach for the first part of the week.
-A severe Spring Nor'easter took residence over South Jersey causing very bad coastal flooding and wiping out large sections of beach. Before the worst of the flooding, I took my mom for a drive to see how high the water was. I even took pictures.
-Sat around and watched the water rise to within 30 feet of the back deck (the yard is about 150 feet long).
-Took a few walks down to the high water level on the road until the high water level was at the driveway. The road was closed at some point during the day.
-Woke up to sunshine and blue skies on Tuesday. Took Frazier to the beach to see the post-storm damage. Decided at 5pm to go for a group ride at 6 that I'd never done before. Somewhere between 30-35 miles.
-Went and got milk this morning, and supplies for car cleaning.
-Frazier to the beach. A different one this time, down in my old neighborhood. Not much of it left, sadly.
-Cleaned the car out.
-Finished laundry.
-Began packing for departure to New Hampshire tomorrow.

I head up to Canada on Friday for 10 days worth of work up there. I'll start out in Quebec and end up west of Toronto. The last time I was in Montreal, I was an infant. I've never been to Toronto. My former housemate Allison read somewhere that every new experience adds 45 days to your life. I'm going to add a good stretch in the next couple of weeks.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Thing about Ticks

New Jersey, being not so far away from the area around Lyme, Connecticut where the disease of the same name was first recognized, has a lot of ticks. Some of them carry the bacteria that leads to Lyme disease. My mother has had it. It seems like I can't take my dog outside without him coming back with a tick on him. Sometimes they are the bigger ones, sometimes they are the smaller ones, which are the vectors for the bastard bacteria.

Among the creatures on earth that I loathe the most are ticks. Roaches really gross me out, and ticks used to. I was forced to overcome my disgust of ticks (somewhat) back in 2004 while I was living in England. This story isn't unfamiliar to many of my friends, but if you haven't had the pleasure to hear the full-blown account, I'll give you the abridged version here:

-Trail building for the 2004 Mountain Mayhem Course
-Fresh set of woods that I was allowed to design the course through (later known as 'Christina's Woods')
-Lovely bit of ferns with the makings of a trail already going through it
-Marking of said path as part of the official course, clearing bits of fern where needed
-Evening shower at the local inn/pub
-Scraping off bits of dirt that stuck to me during the day
-Coming across particularly resistant bits of dirt
-Finally getting one off only to notice that it had legs
-Continue picking until finally I had to shut the shower off and sit down in the tub for closer inspection
-Count the lineup of ticks that I pulled off and put on the side of the tub. Total: 36
-Address Chipps' concerns when everyone else realized that I'd been gone far longer than the 15 minutes I said it would take.
-Had Chipps look at my back, upon which he found 2 more ticks. Total: 38

Everyone was pretty cranky with me, I think, when they thought I was hoarding the shower. I had to pretty quickly get over the feeling of wanting to peel off my own skin in order to get away from the ticks, and buckle down and get them off me. It was quite a line of ticks on the side of the tub.

The problem with being in tick season is that suddenly every little hair, or piece of fabric, or twitch that is on my skin feels like it's something crawling on me. Every time a nerve fires off, or my head itches, I'm convinced that I've got ticks moving along my epidermis. Every freckle suddenly becomes suspect. Every location of a bite becomes something to watch for the telltale target shaped mark that indicates transmission of the disease. I'm tempted to shave my head.

I've decided that if I'm ever standing before the countenance of God, and was given one question to ask, it would be 'Why ticks?'.

Seriously, they serve no purpose. They aren't a food source for much of anything. And even if they are, there are far more of them than are needed by whatever it is that eats them. They are an absolutely pointless creature. I could say the same about the mosquito, really, but I think they are easier for birds to eat than the blood-sucking, belly crawlers.

I mean, they really are rubbish! They just hang out, waiting for something to come along that catches one of the hairy appendages they have. 'Oops! Hey look! I'm on something!' It's not like the tick jumps on. Everything about how a tick operates is accidental. They have no control over their legs. They can't let go unless they've done their vampire act and are heavy enough to fall off. They don't even have sense enough to realize what they are biting. I caught one today trying to burrow itself into Frazier's rain coat.

They are a creepy/crawly that should be banished from the earth. I really don't see how the butterfly effect could be detrimental if ticks were suddenly wiped clean from terra firma.

Monday, May 05, 2008

"You guys got any milk?"

Well...After some considerable delay, I've managed to find the time and motivation to write another post. I'm not entirely sure that my cogitations and musings have been missed, but either way I'm happy to present you with more.

I've had a very busy April. The busiest I've had since becoming a road warrioress, it has to be said. I was fortunate enough to have gotten to work with the ever-pleasant DaveO, and this past weekend Mr. Demo Derrico, whose music collection is the best I've ever heard since it meshes so well with my personal tastes.

As a result of the business, I haven't done much that's worth telling. I've ridden, I've worked, I've not taken many pictures, or had any moments of gut-busting hillarity. It hasn't been without some enjoyment though.

My encounters with people who continue to provide me with reasons Why I Hate People has also been minimal. There have been some examples here and there, as there always are, but nothing terribly glaring.

I recently got a copy of Wuthering Heights on CD to listen to in the car. I wanted to read the book that was written so near to where I used to live in England. I needed to do something about the fact that I'd never read it, and now after having finished the audiobook I'm left with the following that I pose for debate:

If you listen to a book on tape, can you say that you've 'read' it? If someone asks me if I've read Wuthering Heights, can I say yes?

I've thought of the following possible answers:

1) Yes
2) Yes, er no. Um, yes but no.
3) Yes but not really.
4) No, but I have listened to it.
5) I'm familiar with the story.

In truth, I think that I am much more focused on it while listening that I would be if I were turning the pages myself. I don't glance over details or narratives, and if I do miss something it's only in the time it takes me to make an exit or turn.

In other notes, SSUK was over the weekend and I'm not at all bummed about missing it. Oh no. I mean come on! I was in Peoria. How could I possibly have entertained thoughts that Scotland, along with my best friends in the world could be better than that?